Continuous glucose monitoring is quickly gaining popularity as the preferred form of glucose management. Current cutting-edge technology is called a sensor-augmented pump (SAP). It combines an insulin pump with a continuous glucose sensor that transmits glucose readings to the person wearing the device every five minutes. It is the next technological advance toward a closed looped system, often referred to as an “artificial pancreas,” that can monitor glucose levels and precisely deliver the correct dosage of insulin automatically.
A recent study has shown that a sensor-augmented pump (SAP) has the potential to significantly lower hemoglobin A1c levels over the more conventional insulin injections, without an increase in hypoglycemia.
Pump software also has advanced recently to include a bolus calculator. When the user enters the number of carbohydrates he or she intends to take in, the device will calculate the units of insulin needed to cover those carbohydrates. Though technology has not yet advanced to the point where the pump can automatically dispense the insulin based upon the glucose reading, many researchers believe this is only a few years away. For now, users still need to manually increase the amount of insulin before meals and perform finger sticks to calibrate the device.
Main Obstacle to Close Loop System
The current obstacle to creating a closed loop system is development of a reliable algorithm that will read the glucose consistently and deliver a correct insulin dose. Some researchers believe that this problem will be solved in the near future and the artificial pancreas could become the standard treatment for type 1 diabetes in the next five to 10 years.
For all of the potential benefits of CGMs, it should be noted that it is not appropriate for all people with type 1 diabetes. Young children, for example, would not be good candidates for a CGM until their are able to better manage the technology involved.
Insulin Pump With Glucose Sensor More Effective at Lowering HbA1c Than Multiple Daily Injections. Medscape Medical News. Accessed January 7, 2010. http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/709957